Basin Electric membership growing across all districts

Basin Electric directors approved the 2024 load forecast in February, which shows a projected 3.2% growth over the next 10 years; national average growth over the same time period is approximately 0.7%.

The load forecast serves as a baseline for several planning functions at Basin Electric — power supply planning, financial forecasting, and transmission planning; while the load forecast is released early in the year, the financial forecast is released mid-year and forecasts potential rates and capital expenditures required over the coming decade. Basin Electric’s load forecasting team works with the members to gather their sales and purchase data, which is analyzed alongside economic, demographic, and weather data from various local and national sources. The team looks into how members’ sales and purchases were affected by this data historically, then they pair that with members’ current expertise of what is happening today. They use this analysis to forecast future need for electricity.

Missy Schell, Basin Electric load forecast analyst III, said the forecast must analyze not only the risks of planning for trending new loads, but also the risk of a lack of planning for new loads.

“In recent forecasting, we not only see continued load growth of value-added agriculture, oil and gas infrastructure in the western half of our service territory, but we’re seeing new trends emerge,” Schell said. “More data centers and cryptocurrency dotted throughout the service territory, on the eastern side carbon dioxide sequestration pipelines, and on the western side of the service territory, industrial loads related to energy transition items, hydrogen economy items, and more federal and local incentives for those types of loads.”

Schell said the forecast shows a bandwidth addressing the what-if scenarios that come with potential new large loads.

She said when the load forecast was presented to the board in January, directors asked for a drilldown into some of the high impact loads. The load forecasting team then worked with members to gather additional information and data that had been changed or updated since the fall of 2023. The team received more updated information on timelines for completion of new loads, whether they are considering self-generation, and whether they are likely to receive the federal incentives they are pursuing, for example.

This director-requested drilldown resulted in a new scenario being added to the load forecast — called the 2024 planning case. “Extra effort was put in to work with our members who are bringing on significant loads to understand the near-term project milestones, gather information that might have changed or be new since we completed those distribution forecasts in the fall, and also if they have specific generation coming with those projects, whether it be behind the meter or renewable elements that are coming with, for example, hydrogen loads,” she said. “We have developed a forecast that in the short term is hopefully more in line with the probabilities in the next 10 or 15 years.”

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